Thanks to e-mail, messaging clients, cell phones, and countless other communication tools, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch. And the six applications I list below make communicating with other people even easier, without costing you an arm and a leg.
In addition to communication tools, this installment of our multi-part look at the best low-cost software for the Mac profiles Internet and networking applications
on the next page. If you missed any of the three previous installments, we’ve already covered
enhancers and troubleshooters,
multimedia apps, and
time savers and shortcuts.
The version numbers listed below are current as this article was posted. But software is updated frequently, so new versions could become available by the time you read this; check the developers’ Web sites through the links provided to make sure that your Mac meets the system requirements for the programs.
Remote-control utility: Salling Clicker 3.0.1
Address Book shortcut: BuddyPop 2.5.1
BuddyPop gives you quick access to your Address Book info.
) lets you quickly access to your Address Book contacts without having to leave another application to get to them. Simply press a keyboard shortcut, and up pops a translucent window; type in a few letters of an Address Book contact’s name, and press return to get a floating window that lists the contact’s details. You can click on an e-mail address to open a new message to that person, click on a URL to open it in your browser, or control-click on an address to copy it to the Clipboard. If you’ve got a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone, BuddyPop lets you call any contact by double-clicking on a contact’s phone number, and it displays a handy Caller ID pop-up window for incoming calls. (€10;
iChat recorder: Conference Recorder 2.0.1
Although iChat archives your text chats, it doesn’t record your audio chats and videoconferences. If you need this functionality, check out
Conference Recorder 2.0.1
), which lets you easily record your video and audio with one mouse click. Recordings are automatically saved as QuickTime movie files—what you see in the movie is exactly what you saw during the conference. You can select the quality of audio and video in your recordings and whether to record just the audio portion of a video chat. You can even record yourself via iChat’s video preview window—great for practicing a presentation or creating a video podcast. ($15;
Video-chat enhancer: ShowMacster 1.8.1
With ShowMacster, you can display video and images and play audio, in an iChat videoconference.
Have you ever been in a video chat and wanted to share an image, a movie, or an audio file? You could drag a media file into iChat to send it to the other participants in your chat, but they would have to download the file and open it on their own Mac.
) lets you display media files in iChat itself, turning videoconferences into full-blown multimedia presentations. To show an image or play an audio file, just drag the file into the drop zone of the chat window’s ShowMacster drawer; the media will immediately be shown—in place of your mug—in the other participants’ video windows. While presenting media via ShowMacster, you can still talk to other chat participants. When displaying images, you can use the built-in Sketchboard to draw on them. Best of all, because ShowMacster uses iChat itself to send images and video, people receiving your media don’t need to be using ShowMacster, just iChat 2 or later. (€15;
If you’re the type who keeps meticulous records of all your iChat sessions, you need
). The application lets you browse your iChat logs by user name, date, and time, as well as search for chat sessions by words and phrases.
; payment requested;
) delivers organizational moxie to your Mail messages by letting you assign keywords to e-mail, or organize messages by project, for easier search and retrieval; you can also use MailTags to add notes to messages, set and view a message’s priority, and set due dates for responding to messages.
From generating HTML color codes to managing your bookmarks, these 11 low-cost apps will handle all your Web browsing and networking needs.
File-sharing customizer: SharePoints 3.5.4
iSeek lets you search scores of Web sites right from your menu bar.
Bookmark organizer: Bookit 3.7.1
Many people use multiple Web browsers, either to test Web sites they’ve created or because some sites just work better in some browsers. In either case, keeping bookmarks organized
browsers can be a major hassle.
) offers a solution to this problem. Import bookmarks from the most popular Mac browsers, arrange them, and edit them—Bookit then synchronizes your browsers by writing identical bookmark files for each. And if you’ve got multiple Macs, you can synchronize bookmarks across computers via Personal File Sharing or .Mac. ($12;
Although connecting two local Macs for the purposes of sharing files is relatively easy, you still have to set up Personal File Sharing and then manually connect from one Mac to the other, providing your name and password when prompted. That’s a big hassle if all you want to do is move a Microsoft Word document or a few photos from one Mac to another.
) simplifies the process by letting you quickly send files directly to particular users on other computers via a simple drop zone on your desktop. Drag a file (or files) to the drop zone, and you’ll see a list of all computers on your network that are running DropCopy; drag the file onto a user’s name to immediately copy that file to their computer. In addition to its file-copying savvy, DropCopy also allows you to send text messages to other computers and to copy the contents of the Clipboard on another DropCopy-using computer. (free for up to three computers; for larger networks, $25;
Bookmark sorter: Bookdog 3.6
All modern Web browsers let you organize your myriad bookmarks, yet few offer one of the most no-brainer features: the ability to
those bookmarks. Bookdog 3.6 (
) provides this functionality for Safari, Camino, and Firefox; you can even decide
to sort—by page name, URL, or domain—and whether or not to ignore popular site prefixes (such as “Welcome to”). If you’ve already organized your bookmarks into folders, Bookdog will sort them
those folders; you can also choose to sort only particular folders. What’s more, you get the ability to manage duplicate bookmarks, find bookmarks that no longer work, and find links that result in multiple redirections. ($15;
Color tag generator: ColorTagGen 1.0
) lets you Command-click on a URL in most OS X applications and automatically have that URL open in your preferred Web browser.
Little Snitch 1.2.3
) monitors outgoing traffic—alerting you to software trying to “phone home” and guarding against malicious software that’s attempting to connect to other systems.
NetNewsWire Lite 2.1
) may be a scaled-down version of the $30 NetNewsWire, but this RSS reader doesn’t skimp on features, such as a nifty three-paned interface and the ability to share RSS subscriptions between Macs.
PDF Browser Plugin 2.2.3
; free for home, education, or noncommercial use;
) expands on Safari’s PDF-viewing capabilities with features such as multiple layout options, split view, and support for annotations, forms, and links.
) gives Mac users easy access to Windows shortcuts (the Windows version of OS X aliases)—ideal for anyone who works in a cross-platform environment.
Senior Editor Dan Frakes is
columnist as well as the senior reviews editor for
Playlist. Senior Editor Rob Griffiths contributed the ColorTagGen review.
Disclaimer: Mac Publishing, publisher of Macworld, has an agreement with NetNewsWire Lite publisher NewsGator that will include providing services on Macworld.com and selling a news reader application based on NetNewsWire. As always, Macworld strives to keep its editorial and business operations separate; NetNewsWire Lite’s inclusion in this feature was not influenced by the business relationship between the two companies.